Monday, October 31, 2011

It's Halloween!

Here we are- Halloween again.  My favorite holiday of the year.  As I mentioned in the beginning of the month, I much prefer today to New Year’s for making goals and “resolutions”.  I like to consider this my New Year’s Eve and November 1st my New Year’s Day.  Though it’s not everyone’s thoughts-I am not solo on this view. 

The History Channel tells us: 

"Halloween's origins date back to the ancient Celtic festival of Samhain (pronounced sow-in). The Celts, who lived 2,000 years ago in the area that is now Ireland, the United Kingdom and northern France, celebrated their new year on November 1. This day marked the end of summer and the harvest and the beginning of the dark, cold winter, a time of year that was often associated with human death. Celts believed that on the night before the new year, the boundary between the worlds of the living and the dead became blurred. On the night of October 31 they celebrated Samhain, when it was believed that the ghosts of the dead returned to earth. In addition to causing trouble and damaging crops, Celts thought that the presence of the otherworldly spirits made it easier for the Druids, or Celtic priests, to make predictions about the future. For a people entirely dependent on the volatile natural world, these prophecies were an important source of comfort and direction during the long, dark winter.

To commemorate the event, Druids built huge sacred bonfires, where the people gathered to burn crops and animals as sacrifices to the Celtic deities. During the celebration, the Celts wore costumes, typically consisting of animal heads and skins, and attempted to tell each other's fortunes. When the celebration was over, they re-lit their hearth fires, which they had extinguished earlier that evening, from the sacred bonfire to help protect them during the coming winter."
            It is my theory that, if our loved ones are closest to us at this time of year, they can help us stay on the straight and narrow with our goals.  So what are my goals for this coming year?  I am only making two and they are pretty straight-forward.
                             I am going to take better care of myself and

                             I am going to be disciplined about saving money. 

It sounds simple, right?  But it all comes down to making good choices.  The most important questions for me this year will be “do I really need that?”and “what more can I do?”  They work for both of those goals, you know?

 Do I need that chocolate (those chips, that pizza)?

 Do I need that new doodad? 

What more can I do? 

Can I take a walk? 

Can I make dinner at home instead of going out to a restaurant? 

The questions just work- as long as I bang them into my head- hard.  

The other thing I am going to work on- and this may be a multi-year journey- is to find my passion.  I have been thinking and thinking and thinking about it.  I don’t know what it is in my life that I truly have a passion for.  Oh, there are things that bring me joy but I cannot pinpoint what it is that I can see myself doing every day of my life that will fulfill me from my soul out.  So, looking for that will also be a goal- but one without a specific end.  That’s it.  That’s all she wrote.  Literally….

Happy Halloween!    

Monday, October 24, 2011

What I Learned this Weekend

     So you know that I am doing Oprah's Life Class.  It's really all about living the best life that you possibly can.  Each day is a different lesson.  I am a bit behind- okay, a lot behind- because of my self imposed evening tech breaks.  I have been NOT spending my evenings in my little office area (where my PC and television are) and I have been instead spending the evenings in the living room with hubby and the pups or out doing things.  Tonight I am going to see paranormal investigator Patrick Burns speak at the school.  I am too excited.  But back to this weekend's lessons from the life class.

     How it works is- as you are watching the show, there are interactive parts.  There is a series of questions that are curated by Life Coach Martha Beck, and then a journal for your notes from the show.  Since I am behind, I am using it in a way that works well for me.  I answer my questions online first, then save them to Evernote so that I can look back on them.  Then, I sync my iPad to the show which gives me extra quotes and polls that follow with the topic- you can answer the questions on the iPad also, but it's too much for me to do at once.  Meanwhile, on my PC I am on my online journal that accompanies the course and take notes of important (to me) thoughts that come through as well as the quotes that come through on the iPad.  My only criticism about the whole thing is that I would like to be able to go back to the content that comes through in the app but you cannot.  I really enjoy the way I am doing this because I can concentrate more on the class rather than trying to answer questions, take notes and listen all at once.

     The first episode I watched was last Friday's Joy Rising course.  It was based on the famous Car Giveaway (YOU get a car, and YOU get a car...EVERYBODY GETS A CAR!!!) and the Wildest Dreams bus from season 19.  The message was; giving joy, giving of yourself, is as good for you as it is for the recipient.  The quotes from this episode that touched me the most are:

"Anything that is of value in life only multiplies when it is given.~~Deepak Chopra
 "If you knew what I knew about the power of giving, you would not let a single meal pass without sharing it in some way."~~Buddha

      One of the questions on the "homework" was: When was the last time that you gave joy to someone else?  I think we do things for other often, but I don't know that we often truly give what I think of as JOY as often as we could.  At that time, I couldn't even think of an example but since then I do recall a recent time that I gave joy.  I am not going to discuss it here because it kind of feels like bragging and that is against the point of learning about myself but just recalling the smile involved makes me happy.  I also know that the surprise I have coming up (assuming they aren't reading this) will bring my parents joy and just thinking about that makes me giddy. There is so much truth in what they said about giving.  It really does feel good to be able to make someone happy if even for a moment.   

The second episode that I watched was last Monday's Who are You Meant to Be? show.  The first, and best example that was given to us of someone who was living the life they were meant to is Lady Gaga.  Now, I have a perverse thing where I tend to discount shows, artists, musicians that are instant sensations because often they are a flash in the pan- plus having spent over 10 years managing a night club- if I never hear club music again it will be okay.  From the first time she was on the show Oprah and Lady Gaga blew that out of the water.  Behind all of the crazy clothes and huge makeup is a person who is truly working her butt off to live from a really genuine place.  More importantly, her message is very simply BE YOURSELF because who you are is beautiful.  After the first show, and compounded by the other media appearances that I have seen, my respect for her has only grown.  Though her music is extremely dance-able, the words are very powerful.  If you have never heard Gaga, I recommend you go to youtube and watch both her Poker Face and Born This Way videos.  Look beyond the costumes (close your eyes if you need to) and just listen to the words and you will see why so many people, kids and adults alike, are gaga for Gaga. Again, there are two quotes from this episode that together epitomize what I took from this show:  

  "There's the gift, there's the spirit, and then there's the work- all three have to come together. If one of those things is off, i can stop you from becoming who you are meant to be." Jay-Z

"We begin to find and become ourselves when we notice how we are already found, already truly, wildly, messily, marvelously who we were born to be. " Anne Lamott

I took a lot of notes from this class.  The notes that I took that speak to me are these:  

  • Everybody has a calling. We just may not have found it yet.  Your real job is to find out what that is and who you are meant to be and begin honoring it.

  • "God - how can I be used in service?  First to myself then to others?" 
  • Honoring your calling make everything else better. If you are able to honor that feeling, that is when you most come alive. 
  • You never know where the inspiration to follow your passion will come from. It doesn't have to be the biggest idea in the world, it just has to fuel and feed your passion.
  • It's never too late to find your purpose and start living your best life.
  • If I live to 80, can I have lived my life so that I can look back with as few regrets as possible? 
  • Recognize that you have a calling, that your being here on earth matters and is meaningful. Everybody that is here is here in some way to lift up the planet. I all comes back to the recognizing the deeper meaning that is inside yourself. The answer comes when you are open to receiving it.

     This episode for me brought up a lot of internal questions.  It made me realize that I am not, currently following my passion but also that I don't quite know what that passion is.  My daddy has always said that I don't know if I want to be a cowgirl or a ballerina, and he is right.  At 44 I have still not found that thing that, when I do it, makes my heart sing.  

     Actually- I enjoy writing but more, I enjoy when someone reads what I have written and let's me know that it spoke to them.  This blog is a great platform for that because I get some really terrific comments whether folks agree with me or not but this is not something that I could support myself on in the end.  Perhaps what I need to think about is what steps I can take to parlay my love of writing and the interaction into a career.  I am just at a loss as to how to do that.  I also worry that I wouldn't have the necessary discipline to follow through.  

     If I learned nothing else, these 6 (of 10) classes so far have taught me one very big thing.  The biggest takeaway that I have from this class so far is this:  
"You can either chase happiness or you can choose to be happy. It really is that simple" ~~Robert Holden

     That quote is reminder of all of the things I have been working toward in my life journey.  It epitomizes what I have been saying in regards to living with a chronic illness in a very succinct way.  If I had the courage, I would tattoo it on my body where I could see it every day.  If I take nothing else from this show (fat chance!) I would be happy with that one lesson because it just boils it down to the nth degree.  

I choose to be happy.  I choose to look at everything from a positive standpoint, be it my illness, my job, my marriage, my family; my entire life.  I can go forward from today and choose happiness because chasing it is just exhausting.  I hope that you can choose happiness too.

Friday, October 21, 2011

Choose your Fate

****DISCLAIMER: My patience is a little thin at the moment, so this may be a bit snarky.  I am just warning you now so that if you don't want to go further, I will understand. **** 

The reason for my lowering patience is that I see so many people in bad situations, some of their own making, some NOT of their own making, who are just spinning their wheels and complaining about it rather than doing something about it.  Let me give you some scenarios from people that I personally know to illustrate:

Person 1 is miserable in their job.  They are abnormally slow at work at the moment and despite requesting to be cross-trained (the request was denied) during the down-time, they are bored silly.  There is also a lack of communication as to what's going on and what will happen going further which is making them crazy.  It makes them very cranky to be around.  The thing is- they aren't being proactive to either very calmly talk to their boss about their future or find a new job.

Person 2 is in the opposite situation.  They are unemployed and have been so long enough that they are coming to the end of their unemployment benefit term.  They are chronically complaining about the lack of work out there and how they have no money yet they are always "too busy" to really job hunt.  

Person 3 is in a difficult marriage.  Their spouse is - by their own description- selfish, rude, unsupportive and more.  The stories that we as her friends have heard over the years makes our blood boil.  Person 3 has a special needs child who she must care for and the "husband" is very content to quit/get fired and lose their health insurance on a regular basis- and is one of those people who feels that it is never their fault.  After he quits or gets fired, it's not his fault that they can't pay the utility bills or are close to getting evicted.  Whenever she gets the courage to even *think* about leaving he will fake a health scare to reel her back in.  

Person 4 has a chronic illness.  If you listen to them talk, they are the only person who has ever been this sick.  They are the only person who has ever been in this much pain.  If you listen to them, there is not a doctor alive who listens to them, who can treat them, or who is ethical.  As someone who lives with the same  chronic illness, it is evident that they expect a magic pill/shot/supplement/infusion that will make them better immediately.  When they don't get that- the doctor must be horrible. They have quit or been removed from more medical practices than I have been to in my life.  


Where am I going with this?  I truly feel, from the bottom of my heart, that we choose how we perceive our lives.  

  One of the...hazards(?)...of trying to live from a positive, gratitude-filled life is that we become more sensitive to negativity.   That means for me that I find it difficult to be around these folks for long periods of time without my patience being stretched very, very thin.  I actually find myself getting a little angry- which is counteractive to my journey.  

I feel that we all choose the life we live.  There are a lot of things that are out of our control, but we don't have to let them beat us and we don't have to allow the misery in our lives.  On her fabulous blog, Wellness with a Side of Life, our very own @ArthritisAshley posted a blog post about celebs with chronic illness in which she quoted AJ Langer as saying that her approach to living with Fibromyalgia is to allow “20 minutes of self-pity every few weeks. Then I enjoy my life.”  How great is that?  The recurring theme in the examples above is that they have become so overtaken by the bad situation that they are essentially paralyzed by their unhappiness.  

If I could tell them (without alienating them) I would say that it doesn't have to be this way!  I have bad days too, but when I am feeling overwhelmed/sad/self-pitying/a flare/whatever, I tell myself that it's just one day.  I know that each day is a brand new start.  I take myself off to bed and the last thing I think before I sleep is that tomorrow WILL be better.  When I get up the next day I choose to make it a better day.  It may not be a perfect new day, but it will be better than the day before and I continue that tactic until I go through a whole good day- and then I celebrate my triumph over the adversity!  Another tactic is to put myself to sleep  thinking of things that I have to be grateful for.  I may start with my family and end with being grateful that I am alive to have both good and bad days, or I may start with something big and end with the roof over my head and end with the blanket that I am snuggled under.   It's not some trademarked magic trick- it can work for anyone!  

 Maya Angelou once said, "If you don't like something, change it.  If you can't change it, change your attitude.  Don't complain."  and I believe that is so very true.  I also need to remember it on my own tough days.  It's been said (a million times) that when we choose to be positive, we attract more good things.  I know from experience that the reverse is true.  When we complain, we are choosing to give power to the negative.  Instead, let's all choose to take back that power and give it over to living a happy life.  When you do, the possibilities are endless.  

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

400 Posts and Counting

Wow!  This is my 400th post on this blog!  I just went back to the beginning and looked and it was 3 years and  5 days ago that I wrote my first post.  That first post was titled "Why Gratitude?  Why Now?"

That first post was about why I need to find the gratitude in my life and to live with the gratitude in my heart.  I did not at that time know where this would go.  I still don't have that down to a science but I think that I am getting better at it.  My fear at that time was that I would fall into the trap of negativity.  I still have my moments (reference my "Oh My Aching Back post) but they are much farther apart.

In writing this blog, I have been very forthcoming with my flaws and my struggles.  Sometimes I wonder if I should put it all out there but in retrospect I feel that I can learn from my challenges and if writing it in a public forum helps someone else, I can't regret it.

I am- at my own pace- doing Oprah's Life Class.  One of the first lessons that I learned from this class is that my perceptions of myself is not who I truly am and that I need to let go of my perceptions of myself and look deep inside to find out who I was meant to be if I want to achieve inner peace.  I also pulled a quote from this class that just gives me so much hope and that is this:

 "I'm not saying I believe magic is real-I don't, but that is the perennial appeal of magic- the idea that we ourselves have power and can shape our world." JK Rowling

What a terrific concept!  That the power to change our world is inside us!  

As much as I admire Oprah (and yes- if you haven't read my blog before she's been mentioned quite a bit) I have also learned lessons just from writing all of this down and then stepping back and reading it objectively.  I have learned that I need to figure out how to block that niggling little voice in my head that whispers the negative things.  It's that voice that tells me that I can't reach my goals, that makes me afraid to do some new and exciting things, that I am not good enough, strong enough, pretty enough, and on and on.   I need to "stand up" to that voice because I am allowing it to hold me back.  I see patterns in my posts that show me this.  

On the flip side, I have learned that I can do things that I never thought possible.  Writing in this place has given me the courage to write my first book and begin my second.  I have learned that when you recognize your blessings, even the very smallest blessing can make the challenges seem less difficult.  I have learned that you find friends in unexpected places.  I have learned that there really is strength in numbers and that from those numbers comes the best advice that I have ever been given.  

So there we go.  Number 400 is a moment for me to stop and reflect.  It's also where I would like to thank everyone who has read and commented on this blog (except the stupid spammers!) because you have given me so much support and so many great ideas.  I greatly appreciate you!  

Monday, October 17, 2011

What No One Tells You About Living with a Chronic Illness

When you have been diagnosed with a chronic illness it can be scary.  One of the first things that many of us do is take to the 'net to find out as much as we can about living with our illness.  There are many, many (did I mention many?) message boards, twitter streams and blogs that are written by folks sharing their stories.  Some are coping so very well and share their strategies.  Others, not so much.  Unfortunately, the not-so-much contingency is MUCH larger than the positive stories.

I had an appointment with my Rheumy on Friday.  I got good news and so-so news.  The so-so news is that she can feel and see the progression in my knees and ankles- especially on the right side.  It was almost a joke. She was doing her exam and asked me where the problem areas were.  I told her that the up and down temps were playing havoc on my knees and ankles and when she felt the right knee and it popped she said "WOW- guess that's the spot!"  I said "I guess you felt that huh?"  She laughed and said "It's almost like I know what I am looking for!"  We had a good laugh but really, there is nothing that can be done so it was kind of like...whatever.  The good news (for me!) is that though I received a letter that the insurance company had taken my current med (Orencia) off their preferred meds list and it would cost me more- my insurance specialist at the rheumy's office called them while I was there and they did a test claim.  It came back the same as I have been paying.  I asked about the letter and they said that it went to everyone who was on that class of drugs.  They also told me that if I had been on Remicade- my co-pay would have gone from $50/3mos to $1300!  I literally almost spit my coffee out when they said that.  After that I met with my parents.  They were up in Louisville to run an errand and brought me a plant (Black Calla Lilies- I LOVE THEM!) because I haven't been feeling well and I told them what I had found out.  They asked me some great questions and that got me thinking about all of the things I wish someone had told me when I was diagnosed.  So, without further ado- here's my list:

  • 1.  You are not your illness.  Yes, you HAVE an illness- but it doesn't have to have you.  You are the same person that you were, you just have another challenge to deal with.

  • 2.  No matter what your symptoms, there are ways to combat them.  Personally, I can deal with a whole lot of pain but exhaustion is what I struggle with.  I have found that there are different ways to deal with both and most of the the time it is pretty successful.

  • 3.  There are people who can help with the details.  A prime example is the wonderful med-tech in my Rheumy's office who specializes in the insurance stuff.  She not only contacted my insurance and asked the right questions to get the answers I had been unable to get from them; she also makes sure that we are aware of and handles the paperwork for the different co-pay programs.  She told me who to contact to make sure that my specialty pharmacy was covered on the current program which will bring my co-pay down to $5.00.  It's a big relief!  

  • 4.  You CAN get past the guilt.  When I was first diagnosed, I spent a lot of time trying to figure out how I caused this illness that has no cure.  It didn't matter that no one knows what causes RA and Fibro.  I was sure it was my fault.  It wasn't.  It wasn't my fault, it wasn't my parent's fault (there is no proof that it's genetic), it was no one's fault.  Once I got past that, a weight was lifted.

  • 5.  It's okay to give yourself a break.  Stress is a killer.  For me, it can bring on a flare faster than anything else in my life.  I have learned that I don't have to be on the go 24/7.  I have learned that a little dust doesn't hurt, dishes can wait a little while and a nap is a good thing.  Anything that you can do (or not do) to let your body rest and rejuvenate is far better than trying to do it all and exacerbating your symptoms.  Your loved ones would much rather have you as healthy as possible than scrubbed floors.  

  • 6. An open mind is the best way to go into this.   It doesn't matter how many people that you know have the same illness- it is different. Your experience will not be exactly the same, your side effects will not be exactly the same, your response to the meds will not be the same, most importantly- your journey will not be the same.  While we (those who write about their illness) share our experiences and our coping strategies; what works for us will not always work for you and you may find that treatments that fail for us will feel like a miracle for you.  

  • 7- Your support system is KEY to dealing with your illness.  It doesn't have to be friends, it doesn't have to be family.  You can find support in many, many places.  If you find that there are people who do nothing but drag you down, do not count them in your support system.  I am not suggesting that you cut them off from your life (unless they are particularly toxic) but that you don't let yourself count on them and be disappointed.  It will only hurt.  

  • 8.  Blessings come from many directions if you let them. I found that people that I had always thought I could count on were just not able to support me, and people that has been in my periphery stepped up in amazing ways- am so thankful that I was open to that.  I found that I can be thankful for the changes that my illness demanded from my life.  I can be thankful for it opening my eyes to a new way of life.  I am thankful for a myriad of things that I have talked about here over the years.    

That's my list this morning.  I would love to hear from my fellow chronic friends what I missed on this list.  What do you wish YOU had been told when you were diagnosed.  Happy Monday folks!  

Monday, October 10, 2011

Power Phrase

A friend shared this on facebook today- I love it and I need to remember it and read it every day!

Just wanted to share it with you, my friends!  

Lessons learned from a flare

As I mentioned in my last post, I have been struggling with a rough time with my back and hip area.  Thankfully, it is subsiding but this one took a bit longer than usual and I am so very not used to not being able to just power through.  That's how I have handled so many challenges in my life and when I couldn't (and ended up flat on my back) it was as if the rug had been pulled out from under me.

 I have been so very fortunate thus far in my journey to have never suffered from depression.  When this got me so down, I wasn't sure how to pull myself back up and rebound.  I have never in my life found myself literally just wanting to not leave my house; more specifically, not leave my bed.  If we were living on a single story, I probably would have pulled even further into myself than I did.  It was a little scary.  Fortunately (?) we live in a town-home style place and the two pups need access to the outside so I would s-l-o-w-l-y make my way downstairs in the morning, let the dogs out, take my meds, get some coffee, let them back in and then curl up either on the couch or in the recliner for the majority of the day.  Because of the fur-kids, I was unable to stay upstairs in my bed, no matter how much I found myself desperately wanting that.  On top of that, I felt myself becoming angry that I couldn't physically get up and go to work, feeling guilty that I didn't even WANT to go to work and knowing that the work was piling up for when I went back.  Top that off with  Jim starting to get sick and so less than usual getting done around the house and neither of us felt like cooking and both of us felt like comfort food.  It was a huge internal struggle and the more I struggled with it, the more down I felt.  

What I have learned from this is that I am NOT going to handle it well when the eventuality happens and I am no longer able to be as productive as I am now.

I am thankful that I can still be productive when I am in year 6 of my diagnosis and I have not given up despite the difficulties.

 I have also learned that I am more thankful than I realized that I no longer try to hold down two full time jobs, college, home and family.

 I am thankful for weekends to recuperate and a husband that understands when I need to just do that.

I have learned that I can let go of that guilt from staying home from work- at least enough to not spend my weekend there making up the time.

I am thankful that I have a flexible enough schedule and work load to work around hiccups like this most recent flare.

More than all- I am thankful that it is over and I can get back to my life.  

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Oh my aching back....

For about a week now, I have been  having a LOT of trouble with my lower back.  I almost always have that as a trouble spot- specifically the Sacroiliac Joint area.  Now, my Rheumatologist has said that this is actually part of my Fibromyalgia, that RA generally does not affect the back (she did take Xrays for Ankylosing Spondylitis which were negative) but I am not so sure.  When I was in PT, the student who was working with me was horrified by the constant "noise" that comes when, for example,  I am lying on my back and doing the knee to chest/ extend to straight/lower to the floor (bicycle perhaps?)exercise.

Anywho, apparently whatever it is, it is inflammed and I suspect it is also pinching a nerve as when I bend over- like when I put the pups on their leads to go in the yard or try to pick something up- when I stand back up, I am washed over with dizziness.  I would be okay with the pain, but that sudden dizzy feeling scares the daylights out of me.  I almost feel as if, just for a moment, I am going to pass out.  I don't like feeling like I am not in control of my body if even for a second.  Pain is different.  Pain is expected, but this other thing- not so much.

This is the first time, in a long time, that I have allowed my disease to affect my work.  First, because of the pain, I have been taking more of my medications.  I promise- I am not self medicating- my Rheumy has told me what my " upper limit" is as far as if the pain gets to be too much.   I am staying well within her guidelines.  I just don't like to take too much medication because it has two effects on me.  More Tramadol or more Flexeril makes me feel both numb and stupid.  Kind of like I am a bump on a log.  I don't trust myself to drive like that and I don't like to feel like that.  Extra Neurontin makes me sleepy- but not for long.

  Last night is a perfect example.  My normal RX is 300mg Neurontin 2x daily (doesn't matter what two times) and the max dosage is 2400mg.  My normal dosage of Flexeril is 30mg at bed time with a max dosage of 60mg a day.  My normal dosage of Tramadol is 50mg 3x a day with a max of 400mg a day. My normal dose of Naproxyn is 500mg 2x a day with a max of 1500mg.  The thought behind this is that the Tramadol and Naproxyn are for my RA pain and inflammation, the Neurontin for the Fibro and the Flexeril is to help me sleep.  I usually take one Tramadol, one Naproxyn and one Neurontin in the morning, one Tramadol at lunch and the rest an hour before bed.  With this back issue, yesterday I took the normal dosages plus an extra 300mg of Neurontin at lunch and bed time, an extra 10mg of flexeril at lunch.  I was pretty stupid all afternoon and then last night, I couldn't get to sleep at first- I ended up reading until almost midnight, and I have been up since 2:30 am.  I am not tired- yet- I expect that will hit around 6am, and I am moderately numb.  Thank goodness I already told my assistant mgr I would be out again today.

I have been applying heat- both by heating pad and by the hottest shower I can stand until the water runs cold and this morning I am going to attempt to do some yoga to see if I can stretch this area out.  I need my life back.  I can't sit (lay/sit/lay) at home forever and I can't let this control my life any more than it already does.  I am also going to back off all of the stuff that makes me feel "wrong" and add an additional Naproxyn .Hopefully that will take care of the inflammation before hubby and I are going to a concert on Saturday night.  Either way- I am going back to work tomorrow even if I have to use the dreaded cane and take my heating pad with me.  I truly feel that yoga has given me so much relief on the Tuesdays that I can go to class and I know that I can bring my DVD downstairs (Yoga for Dummies- I am not yet good enough to do the routine from my class from memory) and try to get through it.  I tend to do Cat/Cow throughout the day even from a sitting position in my chair as I feel my back tighten and Cobra/Child's pose when I get in my bed at night and in the morning to try to stretch enough to get comfortable.  It's the rest I need help on.  If it helps to open up my back- I will have to make this part of my morning routine.  I have been allowing my insomnia to rule my mornings (up between 2 and 3; exhausted by 6) for too long and it's time to reclaim that as well by either taking the pups for a walk or doing some other sort of exercise as soon as I start feeling tired.

I will conquer this-if by sheer will alone.  It's MY life, it doesn't belong to my illness and their "side effects".


Welcome October!

Welcome to October!!!!!  I love, love, love this month.  Nope- not because of birthdays, anniversaries or any personal events but because I am a complete fool for Halloween, Samhain, Parentalia, All Hallows Eve, All Saints Day or All Souls Day; what ever it is that you celebrate at the end of this month.

I love the idea that the veil between us and our lost loved ones is thinnest this time of year and that, other than January 1st, there is an alternative "New Year" out there.  There is something about the costumes, the revelry, the changing leaves, the smell of fires burning in the home and the crispness of the air that feels far more like a new beginning than the dead of winter ever will.  One of the traditions that I have kept is to make "New Year's Resolutions" on Halloween.  Somehow, those tend to last much longer than than the January 1st resolutions.

For many, many years (closing in on 20) I spent my Halloween in the Halloween capital of the world- Salem, MA.  No matter if I went alone or with friends or with my son, there is an infectious feeling to Salem on Halloween.  I would get decked out in my costume of choice and head out by train.  Even on the 6am train from my town to Boston I would not be alone in my costumed state.  On the second train, from North Station to Salem- those of us who were decked out would far outnumber those who were not.  

I had certain....rituals that I observed when I got to town.  Breakfast at Deb's or the Salem Diner, an obligatory trip to the Witch Museum and often Hawthorne House, lunch (including a fantastic Blueberry Beer) at Salem BeerWorks, wander around town to the Wharf and to all of the different Haunted Houses, the the Commemorative Candlelight Walk from the Wharfs to Gallows Hill.  In between, it all depended on who was with us.  Sometimes we did the Ghost Tours, sometimes just hung around downtown with all of the others celebrating or any of the other Haunted Happenings but there was just a feeling in the air that is indescribable.  If you ever have the opportunity to get to Salem for Halloween- don't walk- RUN.  It's a terrific time even for someone like me who is not too fond of crowds.  You can't help but get swept up in the infectious joy of the day.

I also love this time of year for the haunted houses.  I am not scared of them at all, I am actually fascinated by them.  Oh- occasionally someone will pop out and startle me, but I can't remember the last time I was truly scared in one.  I love to see the costumes of the actors, the vignettes that they devise and the work that goes in to creating these places that will scare and delight hundreds of people every night.  Up north- SpookyWorld was a favorite for my son and I.  We went for quite a few years while it was in Berlin, MA  and then in Foxboro.  When it closed we started going to more local Haunts such as Nightmare New England.  It was something that we looked forward to doing together every year.

Since I have been out in Indiana, I have done Waverly Hills Haunted House (it's pretty cool- I have pics of what is left behind year round from my half night trip to Waverly) and this year I am looking forward to checking out the Baxter Avenue Morgue and the Industrial Terrorplex.  Though it's not his "thing"- hubby is a great sport about going with me and if I asked, Dad would go too.

Dad is the one who started this whole love of the macabre.  From the time Carrie came out when I was 10 years old, until now I have loved the whole genre.  Horror flicks are so much fun.  In fact, as I type this I am watching a remake of My Bloody Valentine which is just as cheesy as the original.  I have seen almost every  Hack and Slash movie, every Vampire flick, every Ghost story, every horror film out there.  As I mentioned- I have this one on my DVR and I have Orphan in my little red NetFlix envelope just waiting to be seen.  With the cheesy films- I love watching and dissecting the special effects and seeing how many of the "standard" murders they include.  With the ground breakers (the ORIGINAL Halloween, Friday the 13th, Blair Witch, Paranormal Activity, Scream, Underworld even the Sixth Sense and Saw) I love watching the way they take a great story and twist and turn it to bring an all new type of scare.  In the sequels, I love seeing how many new ways they can add until they completely destroy the original story (Halloween 3- the Season of the Witch and Jason X are good examples) and then how they attempt to disregard those throwaway films and bring it back on track.  One of the fun things about October is that Syfy network brings us the 31 Days of Halloween.  A whole month of horror films, Ghost Hunters and other paranormal reality shows.  Other channels will do marathons and such but we can always count on there being one channel (FX has handed that over to Syfy) that does a month long event.

So that's MY October- I hope you have a terrific month planned too!